Rulani Mokwena: 'if coach Pitso is really honest‚ I don’t think he wants to play against Sundowns'

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Rulani Mokwena, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Rulani Mokwena, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena says they are not spending hours and hours of sleepless nights agonising over the possibility of meeting mentor Pitso Mosimane's Al Ahly in the quarterfinals of the Caf Champions League.

SA fans are salivating at the prospect of a Sundowns vs Al Ahly showdown in the quarterfinals as such a match would pit the Brazilians against their former mentor Mosimane‚ the man who led the Pretoria side to several domestic league titles‚ the Champions League and the Super Cup.

“Coach Pitso is right‚ who wants to play the defending champions except Mamelodi Sundowns‚” said Mokwena.

“We welcome that because that’s the competition. Once you get to the last eight and to the last four‚ you get to play anybody and you get to play against the best teams. But if coach Pitso is really honest‚ I don’t think he wants to play against Sundowns.”

Sundowns host Algeria side CR Belouizdad in their last match of the Champions League group stages at Loftus on Friday and Mokwena said they would not take their feet off the pedal‚ despite qualifying for the quarterfinals weeks ago.

“There are no dead-rubbers for Mamelodi Sundowns‚ we don’t operate in that space because we are extremely serious people‚” he said.

“They [Belouizdad] are a very good team that is well coached‚ and with very interesting schemes as their fullbacks move up and down. From a psychological perspective we want to go to the knockout stages on a good winning momentum‚ that’s very important.

“You want to be in the Champions League knockout stages on the back of a victory so that you have the conviction‚ and belief that you can win. Once you get to the knockout stages‚ there are no second chances.”

Mokwena did not give a hint on the likely composition of the Sundowns lineup when they host a CR Belouizdad side they thrashed 5-1 in the first leg at neutral Tanzania.

“We will see how it goes with regards to starting places‚ but we believe in meritocracy and we will do our level best to give opportunities to everybody that is doing well.

"Hlompho Kekana‚ just like others in the team‚ is training well and has the right attitude. I think you have seen that when guys like George Maluleka and Kekana get opportunities they show respect to the club.

“Ricardo Goss was exceptional in our last match against Al Hilal and even made it to the Caf team of the week‚ which is kudos to him. We have so many other players that are in the queue and waiting for their opportunities. We are also waiting for Covid-19 results because they play their part.”